The women apply the burnt dung to the skins. This is a form of dye. The skins that have been used are white in colour, abwo skins must be dark. The burnt dung is mixed with animal oil and applied by hand. Had the skins been dark in colour, the hair would have been left on and no dye would have been applied. Fresh milk mixed with water is then poured onto the sides of the skins that have been smeared with burnt dung. The skins are stretched and kneaded in the hands to make them smooth and pliant.
Rights ownerSamuel Frederick Derbyshire
ParticipantsAdwer Eturi , Mary Lodungo , Nawoi Esekon
Item/objectAbwo and adwel
Techniques of productionScraped, Applied
MaterialsAnimal-dung, Eleu a akine, Skin-goat skin
Materials altNgachin a ngibaren
Social group settingCraftspeople working together
TemporalityWork continues on the skins all day, from mid morning to dusk. In total the skins take around two weeks to make. These items of clothing were once worn ubiquitously throughout Turkana, the abwo playing a central role differentiating married from unmarried women. In an akinyonyo ceremony undertaken near to Nadoto (2019LG-02-E001-0001) Louren Engatuny is adorned with an abwo once her ngakoroumwa beads have been dispersed and an alagama metal torc placed around her neck. Historically, a married woman would have continued wearing an abwo in everyday life from this moment onwards. Some women from older generations still wear such skins, but very few. As with many other items of clothing and ornamentation, many argue that the abwo began to radically decline in popularity from around Ekaru Asur (The Fleeing Year, c. 1981).
Date of creation2021-07-24